These photographs were taken by the German photographer Robert Bothner during the Second World War, and depict Smolensk, Warsaw and Ghent under occupation by Nazi Germany. As time goes on it seems there are more and more sets of original colour photographs turning up, and while the quality on some is not brilliant, they truly help the Second World War come alive.
were scanned from Afgacolor slides. Unfortunately the photographs are undated, but the Smolensk series look likely to have been taken in 1941, as the damage to the city is still fresh, and there are discarded ammunition boxes in one of the photographs.
This first series depict Smolensk some time after the Battle of Smolensk that occurred in July 1941. Preceding the battle, on 28th June the city was heavily bombarded, the effects of which are still clearly visible. The large white building in the photos is Assumption Cathedral, the construction of which was completed in 1772. The final three photos in this section are believed to have been taken somewhere outside Smolensk due to their roof architecture but are likely to fall within Western Belarus.
|Assumption Cathedral in Smolensk, this area of the city was devastated during the invasion.|
|Another view of the Assumption Cathedral showing widespread destruction.|
|A view of the town of Kamianiec in Belarus. The round tower in the background is the Bielaya Vieža (Tower of Kamianiec). The white towers in the background belong to the Orthodox church of St. Simyaon.|
The two photos below depict Warsaw some time after the invasion, while the buildings in the background are heavily damaged the streets have been cleared and life appears to be continuing as normal.
|This may be the Plac Bankowy (Bank Square) in central Warsaw.|
|Likely the Pałac Prezydencki (Presidential Palace) in Warsaw.|
|From left to right: Saint-Nicholas Church, Belfry of Ghent, and Saint Bavo Cathedral.|
|A modern comparison of the photo above, it doesn't appear to have changed much!|
|A Gefreiter of the German Heer (Army) in discussion with a shopkeeper on the streets of Ghent.|
Thanks to /u/darad0 on reddit for shedding some light on the locations of the Warsaw pictures, and /u/bdreu for the modern Ghent comparison image.
via VisualHistory on Livejournal